NAGI OF MEKONG SLOWBOAT CRUISE HUAY XAI TO LUANG PRABANG, FEBRUARY 16th 2011
There have been a number of posts about the Nagi of Mekong and finding current information. I went on the Nagi of Mekong in February this year (2011) from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang and it was wonderful, in fact it was the highlight of my trip. This is a video I made of the Nagi trip - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZwPuWWvH7c. There were around 17 passengers with a French family (mum dad and son) joining us at Pakbeng, making a total of 20 passengers altogether.
Adisak had been in contact with me via email. He offered to pre-book my bus ticket for me from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong which I accepted. The ticket was for the Green Bus departing Chiang Mai at 8.30am and I had window seat 5A. The cost was 272 baht and he said to make payment when I paid for the cruise. He booked me a room at Chiang Khong Teak Garden Hotel (the rate was lower than if I'd booked it myself online). Although it was a little higher than I'd wanted to spend, it was well worth it and I had a wonderful view across the river. Adisak met me at the hotel and said he'd pick me up tomorrow around 8.00am or so. I watched the sunrise the next morning. Beautiful.
The next day, true to his word, Adiask came, took care of my luggage and we picked up some other people on the way. Our luggage was taken care of so that was one thing out of the way,as was the details of exiting Thailand and entering Laos. We went across to Huay Xai in the little ferry, Adisak met us on the other side. At the Immigration window it was a nightmare- people shouting, people pushing waving passports. Adisak took our passports and necessary papers, told us he would take care of things and to go across the road to the little cafe/restaurant overlooking the river and wait for him there. This we did and spent a very relaxing half hour or so drinking tea and getting to know each other. Had I been going on the cheap, public slowboat, it would have been a very different story.Adisak came back, herded us all into the mini bus and off we went, down the streets to thepier. This is our boat
Our boat had very comfortable seats, and Phet was our tour guide on the boat. Hot lunches,tea, coffee, and drinking water are included, as is overnight accommodation at Pakbeng including breakfast. Alcohol is extra. We stopped at two villages along the way. The first day we were unable to pull in at a village and so had lunch first. A most delicious meal - fresh river fish, a meat (water buffalo) and potato dish, another dish with green vegetables and a soup.
After lunch, we stopped at Houay Hao - it was a steep climb up all that sand and pretty hot I can tell you. Boy was it hot! But worth every minute of it. We walked through the village and Phet gave us information about the village. He answered my many questions. The people were very shy. I crouched down on the ground and spoke with the children (in my broken Lao and English) I asked could I take photos but the adults shook their heads meaning no. I just chatted away, smiling and when I asked again if I could take a photo, they nodded yes. Each photo I took, I would show them and zoom the picture so they could see. They seemed pleased with the result and were very friendly. I was very grateful for this. This is a Khmu village, the people here are middle Lao people, they are animists. There are 37 families and around 200 people.
Soon it was time to leave and head back to the boat.We arrived at Pakbeng and settled into our accommodation Phetsokxai Hotel. The rooms were very clean with lovely polished timber. With a huge outdoor area overlooking the Mekong it was a lovely place. Most of us decided to go into town for dinner. A group of us had tea at Phakdee Bakery cafe, some went for a curry place - there were several of places to choose from.
The next morning was cool, we had breakfast at Phetsokxai's restaurant and made our way down to the boat. Phet had put out a number of blankets and quilts - it was very chilly and foggy. The mist surrounding us was a magical morning - still, the water rippling and the mountains around us had a purple hue. Our second village stop was at Ban Khok Ek - which is84.7 kms from Luang Prabang - this was a wealthier village than the one we visited the day before and the ladies make beautiful handicrafts which they sell. There is a school, a local still (I tried the Lao Lao - strong whisky moonshine), a small shop, a wat and a village project was underway. Ban Khok Ek has 80 families with about 400 people. They are Buddhists and are Lao Loom people. (Lowland Lao). The handcrafts they make include scarfs and bags.Scarfs are 200 baht. We all bought something. The children came down to the river and waved us goodbye.
Lunch was just as delicious as the first day's. We had fried chicken wings, a dish which consisted of meat rolled in paper with a sauce, a vegetable dish and a curry with chicken and vegetables. Plus there was fresh fruit on both days. There were several large urns filled with boiling water for tea and coffee. I took quite a liking to the Lao green tea. Phet showed me how to make it. That was the best tea I've ever tasted. The captain's name was Mr. Hoomphan and his wife (the cook) was Ms. Vanna. Their son Mr Loan helped out.We stopped at Pak Ou Caves. Tham Ting (lower cave) is what most people see, but a few more adventurous types, myself included, slogged it up the very many steps to the upper cave,Tham Theung, which I thought was rather disappointing, although the sweaty climb more than made up for the wonderful view across the Mekong.
Soon we were once more on the boat and when we eventually pulled into Luang Prabang, we had the choice of lugging our luggage up the steep hill ourselves, or for a small fee, have the young lads do it for us. I willingly paid for this and we then caught a tuk-tuk to our respective accommodation houses.I can recommend cruising down the Mekong on the Nagi - going down the Mekong is a wonderful experience, the river is ever changing and it's very relaxing. It was an awesome trip and we saw many things - peanut crops, water buffalo, fishing boats, jagged rocks showing the water levels but best of all was visiting the villages and meeting the people. If I get the chance to go back to Laos again, I will gladly do the river cruise again. It was well worth the price - 4,600 baht - $150 AUD.
I will be writing about this in my blog http://thailandandlaosjourney.blogspot.com/
(Thailand And Laos Journey) with videos and photos included.
Your trip sounds fantastic. How do you get in touch with the Nagi operators? I'm planning on arriving in Chiang Khong on Dec 27th and hoping to book two seats on the nagi of Mekong for the following day.
Any contacts details gratefully received.
#2 minoglio has been a member since 9/10/2011. Posts: 1
Hello Minoglio, this is the Nagi website - http://sites.google.com/site/nagiofmekong/ send an email addressed to Adisak, The 28th (Dec) is a Wednesday which is one the days the Nagi departs from Houa Xai. Send an email addressed to Adisak to book your seats. As I posted earlier, payment is made when you reach the boat.
Opposite the place I stayed in Chiang Khong, Teak Garden Hotel (see photo) https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-bvYYTg3gho8/TTTJdr9FW2I/AAAAAAABjZE/YfuHqFX4u4Y/s512/CHRISTMAS%252520NEW%252520STUFF65.jpg is a nice eating place called Super BBQ https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-riPc2diyB2o/TpfKz2lfRLI/AAAAAAABsVU/ybcm697rqv8/s800/Thailand%2525202%252520-%25252020113.jpg
where you select the food you want and cook it on the table top bbq. The teenage daughter of the owners, Jamie, helped me select the food and sat with me showing me what to do. You end up with a soup on the lower level and a "main" dish on the top. It was a most rewarding experience and the food was delicious. Can't remember the cost but it was cheap.
We went on Nagi at end of Jan 2013 for 4600 Thai Baht each. It was worth every penny (baht)! There were only 12 of us on a very comfortable boat, meals included. Our hotel in Pakben was booked & paid for & was also brilliant. There's always the option of the cheap boat. I've spoken to people who did it & they said it was crowded but fine. If you're on a budget then use the cheap boat by all means. The difference with Nagi is that it enables you to sit back, relax in comfort & enjoy the great scenery. Everything's available on board at reasonable prices & there are a few stops at villages & caves etc.
#4 Clearerjim has been a member since 17/3/2013. Posts: 1